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As an agency, we’ve found that in order to create powerful and emotionally resonant marketing campaigns, it’s critical to first do brand development and customer research work.

There is no “right” way to do this work and each agency you ask will have their own process.

Our approach starts with a genuine curiosity about customers’ lives, circumstances, habits, anxieties, and how they ended up choosing one brand over another. This work is a combination of understanding people’s customs and habits and macro cultural/societal trends.

At its heart, the purpose of this customer research work is to drive growth for our clients. What we deliver at the end of a project is actionable, and includes elements that are valuable to the CEO, CMO, marketing manager, and copywriter. It is as much a document about overall strategy as it is a prioritized set of actions for fully expressing the brand.

Our Process

1. Background

We review all brand work, positioning, and messaging done to date. We want to understand how the client is currently using the information. Does it sit dormant or is it currently informing organizational goals and marketing initiatives?

2. Interview the brand team

Our core project team (usually 3 people) takes time to understand the client’s point of view and understand what they’re hoping to get out of this work in the short term and long term. Each project has custom elements based on client needs.

3. Interview Customers

We conduct ~15 one-hour interviews with customers. It’s key that we speak to those who’ve purchased in the last year, as they’ll have stronger memories of the circumstances around their decision. We ask questions about their lives, their shopping habits, their anxieties, other brands and more.

4. Cultural Trend Research

We supplement these interviews with select data sources to ensure we have the proper context for our insights. Our preferred tool is Iconoculture, a proprietary consumer research tool focused on identifying trends and shifts in values across generations.

5. Social Listening

We use Crimson Hexagon, a tool that offers online conversation analysis to understand the broader themes and trends surrounding brands and topics across social media, blogs, forums, and news sites. This helps us paint a clearer picture of the reputation, trends, and opportunities relevant to the brand.

6. Develop Insights

As a team, we identify the key themes that emerged in the interviews and supplemental research. We then flesh out innovation opportunities stemming from how customers hack your products to fulfill specific needs, understanding unaddressed customer needs and pain points, and validating (or de-prioritizing) new product ideas.

We also map out content opportunities by distilling customer questions, anxieties, and outline messaging points across the customer journey.

7. Create Personas

With all the information we’ve collected up to this point, we build out personas (up to 3). Personas are composite profiles representing key customer segments. Each persona includes relevant demographics, psychographics, stories, points of view, needs, desires, behaviors, and habits.

8. Messaging

We build out the brand pyramid, positioning statement, and brand story. These devices clarify the key aspects of brand identity and help to ground effective communication strategies.

Brands change, customers change, and the market changes, so we advocate for revisiting this work semiannually to ensure you stay relevant. We promise that spending time talking to your customers is time well spent.

Related Resources

Ignore Your Ignorance at the Cost of Innovation and Growth

What Is an Insight?

Jobs To Be Done: The Untapped Side of Persona Marketing

John Franklin

John Franklin

John is an experienced digital marketer who focuses on building multichannel campaigns around a single brand insight. Before Room 214, he spent five years running marketing and partnerships for eCommerce businesses. He has a MBA from Georgetown University, loves riding bikes, backcountry skiing and gets fired up about baking bread.
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